26 May 2014

Time In A Bottle

I was seventeen years old when I first had my heart broken. You know how you meet a girl, think they're great, and then by the third year of being in love they get thick new friends that suddenly change them for the worse? Well, that's exactly what happened to me and for a long time I didn't think I'd get over it. Tragic really. Even more depressing though is the fact that when I say that that's exactly what happened to me, it's basically a complete lie. I'm pretty sure that I wasn't even aware of the existence of 'girls' at that point in my life and in fact my heart was really broken by a middle-aged fat man called Brett Ratner. Having been a huge fan of the X-Men my entire life, and having gone into a jizz fit of joy over the first two movies, 2006 was the year that I saw X-Men: The Last Stand and what a massive bucket of shite that turned out to be! Cyclops died off-screen, the mutant cure was undone rendering the whole film pointless, Professor X became an angry twat who then randomly popped and, even more unforgivably, they botched the Dark Phoenix story. Around that time I was meant to be revising for my AS-Levels but under a cloud of mutant loving depression, I instead frantically wrote an extensive treatment of how to undo all of that shit for a corrected X-Men 4. Thinking about it, this may have factored into me only getting an 'E' in my psychology exam but you know... I think it was time well spent.

The first two films in the series were directed by the genius that is Bryan Singer, whereas part three was arse-farted into existence by the talentless hack Brett Ratner. Singer's films had heart, subtext, subtlety and along with Blade, basically started the comic book movie boom that's taking place right now. Ratner's film had none of that and, with the character of Jean Grey in particular, actually undid a lot of what had been set up before. X-Men 2 had Nightcrawler's breathtaking attack on The White House whereas the The Last Stand had Vinnie Jones's Juggernaut running through walls to which all I could think was, “What a stupid fucking helmet”. Since Ratner ballsed everything up, the franchise has been floundering between the highs of the average X-Men: First Class and the cock-trapped-in-the-zip awfulness of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It's been eight years since the franchise released its first Bryan Singer free X-Men film and even though I've since realised that girls do apparently exist it still pains me to see the state of the franchise.  

On a scale of one to ten, how shit was X-Men: The Last Stand?
Thank fuck then that the man has now returned to put things right. X-Men: Days of Future Past has just hit cinemas and with Singer back in the director's chair, I couldn't have been more excited. Based on the Chris Claremont story of the same name, this depicts a future in which everybody has been killed by giant robots and only a handful of mutants have survived. For the record, this is definitely a predicament that I can relate to as during work the other day, the computer froze resulting in a loss of productivity that I'm probably going to get bollocked for. Machines might not have taken over just yet but, as that mischievous fucking computer has proven, the electrical bastards are definitely heading that way. In order to prevent the early on set of 'death by stabby killbot', the mutants do the only logical thing that they can think of and send Wolverine's consciousness back to his younger body... as you do. The plan is for him to dick about during the 1970's in the hope that he'll stop a few events that directly lead to this future global holocaust. Sadly his mission won't be made easy by the fact that the young Professor X seems to be a powerless junkie and Magneto is locked up below the pentagon having been accused of killing JFK. Although for the record he claims he was trying to save JFK who was in fact a mutant... I guess a massive love of whores counts as a superpower in this world? Basically, Wolverine needs to recruit these two chaps and get them to understand his problem before their mutual friend Mystique goes mental and kills a dwarf with a porno-'tache 

With the cast of the older films and the younger ones together, some critics have been saying that this film is simply an excuse to get everybody together, however, with the proper director now back in his position and a film that involves changing the past to alter the future, for me this is more of an excuse to correct the bullshit of Ratner's The Last Stand. Basically, this is the film that my teenaged self failed an exam for and, fuck me- it was worth the wait. Just to warn you that from here on in I'm basically going to be gushing all over this film. Imagine seeing a band that you love, then for the next eleven years all you see is crappy tribute acts until just as you've given up hope, you see the real thing again.. and it's as amazing as you remember. That's what this was for me. Okay- err, where to start, what did I love the most? Well, the obvious answer is probably Mystique but that's only because it's basically just a naked Jennifer Lawrence and what's not to love about that? At one point she kills some guy by wrapping her legs around his neck which to be fair would be a pretty fucking great way to go if you ask me.  

However, blue tits aside, it's also great to see how much she has to do with the films plot. In fact it's great to see how much so many characters have to do with the plot and how it directly relates to their personality. The young Professor X needs to get off the smack and learn how to be a cripple so that he can use his mind's psychic-sat-nav powers to find his friend. Like the worlds most fascist member of the Height-Police, Mystique needs to realise that killing one dwarf won't solve all her problems. Wolverine needs to learn diplomacy and resist the urge to just punch everybody in their mutant faces, and Magneto... well, like a bored truck driver on a long journey, he just needs to try not to murder people for a little bit. Not only that but thanks to the film focusing as much on character as plot for the first time fucking ever, we also get a blockbuster finale that isn't simply the result of some nerd desperately head-butting the CG-explosions button on his keyboard. It also means that there's kind of no real baddie here as everybody sort of has a point. The X-Men just want to make friends with the humans to avoid a conflict, Magneto wants to kill them before they can kill him and the humans want to kill the mutants before Magneto kills them. Imagine that! A film in which everybody is more than just a simplistic archetype from the big book of bullshit clichés!?! In this film we look at people killing and ask why? To which the answer is, “probably thanks to their dark past, history of suffering and fear of future subjugation”. Take a look at any other big blockbuster and ask why the baddie kills and I bet you the answer is... “Err... I dunno. Because he's a cunt?” 

That's not to say, by the way, that there's not great action in here because there really is. In fact, the film is full of it. It's just that the spectacle exists as a way of the characters implementing their beliefs instead of just happening because an audience of idiots have paid some arsehole shoot some other arsehole in the face. In fact, a particular highlight of this film was Magneto's prison break which was achieved thanks to the speedy joy of new character Quicksilver. In case you don't know, his power is that he's really, really fast and so he basically just legs it about the place like a pilled up Scouser who's woken up late on giro day. In fact, the sequence in question involves him running around as a security team tries to shoot him however because he goes so fast that time basically stops, the scene sort of plays out like an inevitably gun-heavy American remake of British kids' TV show Bernard's Watch. It's really fun and actually, despite the cast consisting almost exclusively of returning fan favourites, the new Quicksilver was somebody I wish we'd had more time with. I hear he's going to be in the next X-Men film too though so I guess that's something to look forward to. Although, to confuse things, there's also going to be a different version of him in next years Avengers: Age of Ultron with Arran Taylor Johnson stepping up to the plate. I only mention that so you don't get muddled up when you see him in a different franchise so, to keep it simple, I'll explain. Here, QuickSilver is played by the guy who played Kick-Ass's best friend in Kick-Ass whereas in Avengers 2 QuickSilver will be played by Kick-Ass himself. But it won't be the same Quicksilver... Obviously! Oh, and in case you don't recognise this QuickSilver as Kick-Ass's friend from Kick-Ass well that's probably because that character was re-cast by the time we got to Kick-Ass 2. I literally can not see what could confuse people about that... 

On the downside, I suppose that at this point, the franchise is kind of riddled with continuity errors but it's so good that I really don't care. If Professor X literally burst in X-Men 3, then how come he's still alive here? Because.. he put his consciousness into his identical twins basically dead body? Okay... then if it's a different body then why does he still need the wheel chair? Habit, laziness or did he just happen to break his back again? Silly Professor! And if General Stryker is a young guy here then who was that old guy called General Stryker in First Class? Was it his dad maybe? Do the Special forces only hire people with that name? Or is this young guy the same person but after having had some really fucking amazing plastic surgery? I don't care how much of your arse you have injected into your face, surely nobody can look that much younger? Meh... I suppose this is a sci-fi film so maybe that's it. Okay, so if Wolverine lost his metal claws at the end of The Wolverine then how come he's got them back here? Because I need to get a fucking life? Yeah.. You're probably right.  
"Give me the fucking keys you fucking cocksucker..."
To conclude, perhaps one of the other things that Days of Future Past deserves huge credit for is delivering a relatively complicated plot in a relatively uncomplicated way. You don't have to have seen all of the previous films to understand what's going on here as, after a few slightly clunky lines of exposition, everything is pretty much set up. “God- isn't being killed shit!”, “Do you think if we went back in time we could stop it?”, “Dunno but we could give it a fucking go”. Did that make sense? Right, well you'll understand the film then. I guess that's down to Singer really though as, having started with The Usual Suspects, it's obvious that the guy likes to work with complicated plots and ensemble casts. It's also obvious if we compare it to that film that he also likes to deliver amazing fucking endings. In The Usual Suspects we're told that, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled is convincing the world that he didn't exist”. Having seen this film I can very happily say that the greatest trick Bryan Singer has pulled is convincing the world that Bret Ratner doesn't. I don't want to spoil too much because the joy for me was in the surprise but pretty much every single problem I had with the third instalment has been completely undone. I know this film is called Days of Future Past but for me it may as well have been called X-Men 4: Fuck You, Last Stand. 


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